How do I know when my turkey is cooked?

 

To make sure your turkey is cooked to a safe temperature but the breast meat doesn't dry out, cook it to 165 degrees. The old methods, like checking if the juices are clear or the thigh pulls easily away from the bone, do not ensure the bird is cooked to a safe temperature. The only other foolproof method to ensure your bird is safe is to horribly overcook it!

To the surprise of many cooks, turkey meat can be light pink near the bone when cooked to a safe temperature, especially on the leg. (And, it can be completely white when not cooked to a safe temperature, which is why using a thermometer is so important).

As long as the turkey meat is at least 165F it is safe to eat, but most of us find pink poultry unappetizing and worrisome. An easy solution is to cook the legs longer: because they are dark meat, they won't dry out the way the breast will. To make this work and not interfere with serving the meal, I suggest you bring the whole glorious bird to the table for some oohs and ahs, then back into the kitchen for carving. Immediately remove the legs and return them to the oven for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, the breast is resting for the necessary 20 minutes or so before carving, and guests are enjoying their first course. By the time you are ready to carve the breast, the legs should no longer be tinged with pink.

Marge Perry

November 2010